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Marvel's Avengers review: a punchy start but needs to show us fresh moves

(PS4/XO/PC) ★★★★ Age: 15+

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Marvel's Avengers

Marvel's Avengers

Windbound

Windbound

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Marvel's Avengers

Just read that title carefully: Marvel's Avengers. No subtitle, no colons, no brackets. This is theoretically all of the Avengers, the whole nine yards, nothing spared. It's an ambitious attempt to encapsulate Marvel's universe with a regularly updated brawlfest.

But it presents a problem for the reviewer assessing such a live-service game - one that will be augmented for years to come. It's like judging Game of Thrones based on a couple of episodes - can it sustain many hours of engagement down the line?

The foundations in Avengers prove remarkably solid - at once beguiling Marvel superfans with its authenticity, Easter eggs and lore but also pitching to the uninitiated by making a little-known newcomer the heart of the story.

That angle drip-feeds the availability of the familiar superheroes - Hulk, Iron Man and so on - into a coming-of-age origin tale for young Kamala Khan (aka Ms Marvel, who has yet to appear in the movies). Despite significant differences between playable characters, though, you essentially spend most of your time fighting the villains by repeatedly pummelling seven shades out of robots, with interludes to climb buildings and platforms. Fun but massively repetitive.

There's enough emotive resonance here - particularly with Khan - to drive you to finish the campaign story. But beyond that lies the like-or-loathe-it endgame that apes the loot shooter Destiny - a succession of brawls in search of better gear with higher stats.

Avengers has made a punchy start but needs to show us fresh moves pretty soon.

Windbound

(PS4/XO/PC/Sw) ★★★ Age: 12+

 

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Windbound

Windbound

Windbound

 

The sea is a cruel mistress. But so is the land, based on my experience with Windbound, a randomly generated survival-puzzle-sailing hybrid. It looks a bit like Zelda but flatters to deceive.

You're shipwrecked on a small island and must forage for food and resources to build a boat to escape. That involves scouring other islands, hunting animals and gathering flotsam and jetsam to construct better items to go further. It's a familiar formula from other games, but the default difficulty is extremely punishing and prone to costing you several hours of effort with a random event such as a shark attack.

Played on easier level, it's more palatable, but the core gameplay loop lacks sufficient variety.

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